A couple of scientists from NASA revealed the agency's planned activities for the astronauts who will go to the Moon in a future mission for the Artemis spaceflight program. The scientists noted that the upcoming mission will be the longest time that NASA's astronauts will stay on the Moon.
For the upcoming mission to the Moon, NASA previously revealed that it is considering sending two astronauts to the Moon. The agency noted that one of these astronauts could be a woman, marking the first time that a female astronaut will step on the lunar surface.
Recently, Nike Werkheiser, the head of NASA's Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative, and the agency's Lunar Surface Systems Lead John Connolly revealed the type of activities that the astronauts will engage in during the upcoming mission. The two scientists shared the details of the mission during the recent Lunar Exploration Analysis Group meeting, Ars Technica reported.
According to Connolly and Werkheiser, the astronauts who will be selected by NASA for the mission will spend about 6.5 days on the surface of the Moon. This would serve as the longest time that NASA astronauts stayed on the Moon.
For the astronauts' week-long stay on the Moon, NASA planned various activities such as carrying out up to four spacewalks on the surface. During that, the astronauts will conduct various kinds of scientific observations and experiments on samples taken from the lunar surface. One of these experiments involves studying samples taken from lunar water ice. This experiment might involve finding traces of alien life on the Moon.
Connolly and Werkheiser also noted that the astronauts might also collect lunar rock samples, which will then be returned to Earth in order to be studied. In addition, the astronauts will also conduct other experiments that are geared towards testing NASA's capability of deploying a crewed mission to Mars.
"We are going to do some testing for Mars on the Moon, but we are also looking at a long-term lunar surface presence," Connolly said.
NASA's upcoming Moon mission for the Artemis program is expected to launch sometime in 2024. Connelly noted that the agency is targeting to land the mission near the Moon's south pole, which is believed to be rich in water ice.